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March 29, 2024

From CO2 to Seafood

The ocean absorbs a huge amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and algae play a vital role in this process as the primary absorber of CO2 in the ocean. Until now, however, there has not been an established technology to enhance the sea's natural CO2 absorption capacity.

Times are changing. The NTT Group is tackling environmental and food challenges with its research on enhancing the CO2 absorption and growth of marine algae through biological conversion technology. Its sustainable approach aims to nurture the planet by addressing the crucial issue of oceanic CO2 absorption.

NTT's strategy involves two key steps. First, through genome editing, they have identified specific genes in algae that could significantly boost CO2 absorption. Second, to maximize this absorption, NTT has undertaken mass cultivation experiments of algae in outdoor environments to determine the optimal culture conditions.

Algae play a crucial role in carbon fixation, a process in which CO2 is converted into organic compounds through photosynthesis, aiding in the growth of these organisms. By employing advanced breeding technologies, such as genome-editing and selecting superior strains, alongside large-scale cultivation techniques, NTT is working to improve the photosynthesis process in algae. This results in a higher rate of CO2 fixation. Beyond serving as essential feed for shrimp, shellfish, and zooplankton (a food source for young fish), algae are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA, making them beneficial for aquatic diets. DHA is essential for the development and maintenance of the brain, eyes, and nervous system. EPA supports heart health, immune function, and inflammatory response. Future ambitions include leveraging microalgae in agricultural fertilizers and other industries.

NTT's approach not only addresses environmental issues by enhancing CO2 fixation by marine organisms, but also provides a solution to food challenges. By identifying two crucial genes and leveraging genome editing technology, NTT aims to improve the environmental tolerance of algae, leading to a more efficient and stable supply.

In theory, the incorporation of CO2 into marine ecosystems should decrease atmospheric CO2 levels. In practice, this is being demonstrated through land-based aquaculture experiments, which also demonstrate the potential for efficient seafood production, thereby addressing food supply issues.

By expanding the amount of CO2 that gets absorbed by marine organisms, NTT aims to contribute to achieving carbon neutrality and bolstering primary industries like seafood production. NTT's work not only points the way towards mitigating climate change, but also demonstrates the interconnectedness of environmental sustainability and food security. With its biological conversion innovation, NTT is showing how technology can be harnessed to address some of the most pressing global challenges of our time.

NTT—Innovating the Future

Picture: Daniel O'Connor

Daniel O'Connor joined the NTT Group in 1999 when he began work as the Public Relations Manager of NTT Europe. While in London, he liaised with the local press, created the company's intranet site, wrote technical copy for industry magazines and managed exhibition stands from initial design to finished displays.

Later seconded to the headquarters of NTT Communications in Tokyo, he contributed to the company's first-ever winning of global telecoms awards and the digitalisation of internal company information exchange.

Since 2015 Daniel has created content for the Group's Global Leadership Institute, the One NTT Network and is currently working with NTT R&D teams to grow public understanding of the cutting-edge research undertaken by the NTT Group.